Global payment services provider Western Union
has signed a deal to offer international money-transfer services at
Russia’s Sberbank branches.

Sberbank is expected to become the largest
Western Union partner bank in the central and eastern European
region. Money-transfer services will initially be available at more
than 8,000 of the bank’s branches in 2011.

Once all Sberbank’s consumers have been
integrated into the bank’s BLITZ money-transfer system across 9,000
of the bank’s branch locations, both parties intend to extend the
network further. 

“Cooperation with such a large player in the
market of international money transfers as Western Union enables us
to offer our clients new services and expand our activities in the
field of international money transfers,” said Alexander Torbakhov,
deputy board chairman of Sberbank of Russia.

“We are confident that this agreement will be
beneficial for both parties.”

It is claimed that during the first year of
the partnership the focus will be on the consumer-to-consumer
Western Union money-transfer service, which will take place in
Sberbank’s branches. It is then expected that the two companies
will consider launching ‘account-based money-transfers’, in which
customers can transfer money directly from their bank accounts
online to any of the 386,000 Western Union locations around the